This week’s scrapbook is courtesy long time Copper Country Explorer Paul Meier, who’s lucky enough to have seen (and photographed) the Copper Empire during its twilight years. It was the 1960’s and Paul was a young lad with an interest in Copper Country history and amateur photography (sounds a bit familiar to me). Lucky for us this meant a great many photos of old mine buildings when they were still intact and standing, photos he has graciously offered to share with everyone through Copper Country Scrapbook.
Today’s collection of photos brings us to the North Kearsarge No.4, a shaft which C&H was still using sporadically at the time these photos were taken. Here’s Paul’s description as he remembers it:
“These were made in the 1963-65 era. As you can see North Kearsarge #4 was suffering from deferred maintenance. We know C&H was still sinking the shaft in the late ’40’s and she was probably producing into the ’50’s, perhaps Gordy has some info. By the time these were made she appeared to be abandoned in place. This was not the case. On the second visit, there was a crew working there. C&H was using the shaft for pumping and, despite the run-down look of the building the hoist and boilers were being maintained to access the pumps and as a safety outlet in case of problems in the other Kearsarge Lode shafts. They guys said the boilers were fired and the hoist exercised at least once a month. They were doing the same with the big Ahmeek #3 hoist once that shaft was done producing.”
Paul also laments the digital divide between then and now, and how different things would have been if back then he had the technology available to me now:
“If only there were a time machine to go back with my digital Nikon. Hundreds pictures possible, automation, and instant review. Even B&W in the film era represented a cost to a teenager, so the shots had to be limited. The Argus C-3 camera I had was good but totally manual, no meter, you had to judge the light and set the aperture and shutter speed. When I bought a Pentax Spotmatic SLR in 1969 with an internal match meter I thought I had attain photography heaven. Then came full aperture metering and later automatic exposure.”
My Canon digital SLR has a full auto mode that makes my job a thousand times easier. It also has a 4GB memory card, which provides me with enough room to take as many pictures as I want during as excursion. While Paul probably took a dozen or so at a time, I routinely record an average of about five to six hundred on a typical outing. In fact since CCE’s first post nearly six years ago I’ve taken a total of over 40,000 photos of Copper Country ruins and buildings. Imagine paying developing costs for all those photos back in the 1960’s.
You can view the album in its entirety (nine images in total) below. Make sure to click on each image to see it in full size.